your first true fan

In the midst of working our asses off to create meaningful creative work, we may feel dejected and bogged down that we are not attracting enough eyeballs. Contrary to what we expected, not a single person has shown up to appreciate us or our work and communicate the impact that we have made in their lives. We are wholeheartedly committing to the daily grind, but still we’re not seeing any results.

In those times, we need to take a step back and assess our work. We essentially have three options: continue, pivot or quit. And deep down we need to ask ourselves: Do I truly believe in the work that I’m doing?

If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track, keep going. We may need to make some minor adjustments in terms of our work-life synergy, and if required we may even have to reduce our pace, but there’s no reason not to keep treading this path. And if the answer is no, then it’s time to either pivot and make a lateral move to something else, or simply quit and start fresh.

When we do meaningful work, external validation doesn’t bother us. It doesn’t matter whether we get appreciated or not.

You may have read about the notion — introduced by Kevin Kelly — of having only 1000 true fans to be truly successful and make a living as a creative person, no matter what your industry is. Equally true is the fact that you need to be a true fan first… of yourself and your work. If you don’t love and believe yourself, and if you don’t love and believe your work, then people will notice that. When people sense your passion, your commitment and your integrity towards your work, they’ll inevitably get drawn to you.

You’re creating for yourself first before you’re creating for anyone else. As Tim Urban points out in Tribe of Mentors: “Obsess over figuring out the funnest, most exciting, most natural shape of yourself as a writer [or creative] and start doing that. There are a lot of people on the Internet, and they can all access your work with one tap on the phone in their pocket. So even if only one in every thousand of them — 0.1 percent — happens to be a reader peg that perfectly matches the shape of your writing hole, that amounts to over a million people who will absolutely love what you’re doing.” He further adds, “I started out basically imagining I was writing for a stadium full of replicas of myself — which made things easy because I already knew exactly what topics interested them, what writing style they liked, what their sense of humor was, etc.”

Before we win others, we need to win ourselves. Once we do that, everything becomes easier and falls into place. In order to generate magnetism towards our work, attract a viable audience and spread our message, we need to embody and be under the influence of our message first.

Generate love, appreciation and admiration within you, don’t go looking for it. The first step to accruing 1,000 true fans is to become a true fan yourself. Once you’re inspired and locked in to attaining mastery in your craft, the laws of the Universe will ensure that more true fans and admirers keep coming your way.